Building confidence in Ukraine’s transition

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UCBI has helped local organizations in Dnipropetrovsk, Kharkiv and Zaporizhzhya and Oblasts support displaced people from Donbas with information, housing, and opportunities to build relationships in communities.

USAID’s Ukraine Confidence Building Initiative


No one predicted that the ambitious and optimistic reform process sparked through the revolution of dignity would lead to an externally supported separatist movement and a potential humanitarian disaster. Through UCBI, USAID helps communities manage issues such as displacement and to rebuild confidence and stability in vulnerable communities in eastern Ukraine.


In late 2013, popular protests broke out in Kyiv after the Government of Ukraine reversed plans to sign an Association Agreement with the European Union, eventually leading to the ouster of the president and setting in course a political transition that promised to deliver long needed reforms. However, this transition was quickly followed by an externally supported separatist movement in Ukraine’s south and east regions, which in recent months has claimed over 6,500 lives and forced more than one million citizens from their homes. A shaky ceasefire brought some degree of stability to the region, and Ukrainians in liberated towns and cities cautiously began rebuilding their lives. Some of the largest cities in eastern Donetsk remain under the control of foreign-backed fighters. The stalemate left more than a million internally displaced people (IDPs) unable to return to their homes. Communities hosting IDPs are exhausted, and the thousands of new residents put a heavy toll on local resources and services.


USAID’s Ukraine Confidence Building Initiative

In July 2014, USAID began implementation of a program in Ukraine to support the country’s historic political transition and mitigate the effects of this crisis. The Confidence Building Initiative (UCBI) complements ongoing USAID efforts to create a prosperous and stable Ukraine. UCBI provides fast, flexible, short-term assistance to Ukrainian partners in support of a peaceful democratic transition and community cohesion in the East. The program’s current objectives are to:

  • Mitigate social tensions caused by the conflict, which threaten Ukraine’s political transition.
  • Increase availability of information and inform public debate on issues related to the conflict and its impact.

Geographic focus: Vulnerable areas in Eastern Ukraine, including Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhzhya and Oblasts, as well as liberated areas of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts.


To date, USAID/OTI has initiated 70 activities and provided 100,000 IDPs with economic opportunity and other resettlement services. Current OTI efforts include:

Increased economic opportunity and access to services:

The influx of IDPs and the state of the economy led to competition over limited resources, jobs, housing, and education. Competition can be both real and perceived. There is active discrimination against IDPs, who are often perceived as receiving more assistance than permanent community members.

Response: Expand local provision of services and disseminate information about economic opportunities. Target all conflict-affected populations, not only IDPs.

Conflict-affected youth engagement:

An entire generation of youth from Donetsk and Luhansk are at risk due to displacement, disruption of their studies, and fear of discrimination in host communities.

Response: Integrate youth into their new communities through activities that strengthen civic activism and community cohesion.

IDP integration into host communities:

IDP populations often do not fully integrate and are absent from public life due to their frequent mobility, fear of stigma associated with being from the Donbas, or a “difference in mindset.” This causes suspicion, fear and perceptions within host communities that IDPs instigate crime and create instability.

Response: Engage IDPs and host community members in positive interactions.

Increased availability of objective information:

Russian speaking populations in the East receive a barrage of negative messaging from Russian-language ‘news’ sources advancing Russian unconventional warfare, which are intended to undermine morale, distort perceptions of both national and local events, and sow confusion and anxiety.

Response: Increase the amount and reach of objective Russian-language news content about the situation in the East.